What Is Cough?
What Are Symptoms of Cough?
A cough may be accompanied by other cold symptoms, including:
What Causes Cough?
Causes of cough include:
- Most common cause of chronic cough
- Postnasal drip
- Lung conditions
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Certain medications such as ACE inhibitors
- Inhalation of foreign objects into the lungs (usually in children)
- Congestive heart failure
How Is Cough Diagnosed?
Cough is diagnosed with a history and physical exam. Tests used to help diagnose the cause of the cough may include:
What Is the Treatment for Cough?
Treatment of cough depends on the cause and whether the cough is acute or chronic.
Treatment for cough may include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing guaifenesin and/or dextromethorphan (available in cough syrups and in tablet form)
- Antibiotics for infection caused by bacteria such as bacterial pneumonia and bronchitis
- Inhaled bronchodilators and inhaled steroids to treat asthma and COPD
- Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), or nasal inhalers like ipratropium bromide (Atrovent) for postnasal drip
- Famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac) omeprazole (Prilosec, Prilosec OTC), lansoprazole (Prevacid, Prevacid 24-Hour), rabeprazole (Aciphex), pantoprazole (Protonix), esomeprazole (Nexium) to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- If cough is caused by an ACE inhibitor, your doctor may switch your medicine
- Never stop taking a prescribed medication without first talking to your doctor
- Pain relievers (analgesics) to treat the pain caused by coughing
If the cough is not serious, home remedies may help relieve symptoms, such as:
- Staying hydrated
- Gargling with warm saltwater
- Cough lozenges (lozenges are not recommended for young children; they can be a choking hazard)
- Don’t smoke
- Avoiding allergens such as pollen, dust, animals, or mold
- Avoiding inhaled irritants such as smoke, dust, and other pollutants
- For GERD: Avoiding foods that increase reflux, avoiding meals before lying down, elevating the head while sleeping
If a cough is keeping you up at night, try:
- Taking over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines before bed, such as cough suppressants to reduce the urge to cough or expectorants which help loosen congestion
- Having what you need at the bedside: cough medicine, lozenges, a glass of water, or anything else that helps
- Using a mentholated vapor rub to help open airways
- Drinking tea with honey (avoid caffeinated tea)
- Using extra pillows or raise the head of the bed 6 to 8 inches using blocks of wood or rubber under 2 legs of the bed or a foam wedge under the mattress (especially helpful for people who have cough due to GERD)
- Washing bedding at least once/week in hot water to keep dust mites in check if cough is due to allergies
- Inhaling steam in a shower before bed or use a humidifier (caution: steam can worsen cough in people who have asthma)
- Using a humidifier (caution: if cough is due to allergies to dust mites or mold, too much moisture can make it worse)
- Don’t smoke